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Hypnos' Blog

Vikings ahoy!

These last weeks have seen the wrap-up of our Hallowe'en monster mash and the unveiling of our new Viking themed ships and helmets as we usher in the fall season in Puzzle Pirates.  Hooray for zombies!

An interesting quirk when we unveiled the zombies on production oceans was how easy people seemed to find them compared to skellies.  Both swordfight and rumble difficulties are set by developers, and before we released the zombies, there was actually the opposite concern- that zombies at the same AI difficulty level as skellies would prove too difficult for our players to defeat.  After debating it for a while, we decided to release the zombies at the same level anyway, and monitor the feedback.  To our great surprise, people mowed through the zombies.  They were smashing through them with overwhelming success, and we actually had to tweak the AI difficulty level higher than that of skellies to compensate.  Hooray for bludgeons!

The Atlantis rush of August has leveled out and seems to be at a good balance of activity with pillage.  We saw a number of players jump in activity level when Atlantis was released and the enthusiasm was great!  We do not want to change the fact that pillage is the core cooperative activity of the game though, and right now Atlantis (and hopefully future iterations of sea monsters) is a well-liked alternative to pillage, not its usurper.  Hooray for balance!

With the large number of new game features we've added in the last year, including but not limited to duty puzzle maneuvers, voyage configuration, flotillas, Brigand King blockades, new tournament settings, swabbie ship transport, blacksmithing, sea monsters, and zombies, we are going to be taking a deep breath, enjoy the spicy brew we have created in the game, and take stock of what we are going to take on next.  Hooray for depth of gameplay!

I can hardly wait.

Comments:

Posted by Azureblue

Aww, I was hoping for pictures of last weekends party

November 14, 2007 at 04:32 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Muffynz

Yes, Miquela tells us it was a sexy blast.

November 14, 2007 at 10:11 PM PST | permalink

Posted by CrazyMaryJo

And here I thought the zombies were made easy for Hallowe'en! LoL Thank ye for making them a bit "harder"... it does make it a bit more interesting now!

November 14, 2007 at 11:47 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Hemline

Please don't feel haggard for what I'm going to say, for I'm only asking out of curiosity; what happened to the titan?

You mates deserve some spicy brew and R&R for all the wonderful additions, but I simply recall that the Titan would come thundering after the appearance of sea monsters. Again, just questioning, not devaluing any of your hard work.

November 15, 2007 at 02:01 AM PST | permalink

Posted by Hypnos

Heh, pictures from the OM conference and party will be up hopefully next week.

As for the Titan, we're reconsidering it after the general reaction to the brigand king blockades. It's one of the things that we're taking into account in the whole discussion-and-taking-stock thing. (Questions are always welcome, I don't think that's insulting at all. :D)

November 15, 2007 at 12:04 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Crooktooth

BUt, but, but, you've gotta leave the Titan in! I wrote about it in my Obit entry!

November 15, 2007 at 03:25 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Muffynz

I'm curious. Have you ever now or in the past considered involving players in these "discussion-and-taking-stock things"? I mean, in a more active role like a conference call or IM chat room or something. The monarch conferences are great but has the possibility of ever involving a few of the players in a so-called "staff meeting" come up as a way to get some ideas first hand from the player base, and respond immediately either with caveats or impossibilities towards them? I realize the difficulties and pitfalls of such a suggestion, I was just curious if it had ever come up.

November 15, 2007 at 06:36 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Hypnos

It hasn't been discussed recently, Muffynz. I think that a lot of Puzzle Pirates' large game additions have always been developed by the developers, with fine tuning coming from the playerbase. It's not that we aren't open to suggestions, and indeed a number of game features HAVE come from the playerbase. I think in the case of the Titan and sea monsters, we already know what the game goal is, and designing the details is what we hash out in the meetings.

The advantage to this is many orders of magnitude of time. In a meeting with all of the developers and artists and the CEO and COO, ideas can be tossed back and forth with the immediate feedback of "Yes, we can do that." or "No, that's really complicated." from Arcturus, Bungleton, or Cephalopod. The same goes for art requirements from Greenbones. If we were to go with an open forum approach, organization of when and where feedback could be input, feeding that to the developers, feeding their feedback back into the form, getting the second iteration of suggestions, etc. would take weeks instead of the approximate hour we spend. With an attempted release schedule of every two months or so, that's simply not possible.

What we do as a compromise is have the rather large threads up about each of these upcoming features, which I read (every single post!) and the developers read, summarize, and bring to the discussion table when we are planning these features.

November 16, 2007 at 04:25 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Hypnos

Oh, and furthermore, there's a large precedent in Y!PP of keeping new features and their details under wraps as much as possible and surprising people when they come out. I don't think that's something that we plan to change any time soon.

The way Puzzle Pirates has developed doesn't make it a primarily player-created content game in the way that Whirled hopefully will be. I don't mean that anything is wrong with either method of development, they're just two very different creatures.

November 16, 2007 at 04:28 PM PST | permalink

Posted by BulletTime

From what little I understand about the process, it's pretty low on the OM input too. I know there are sort of emissaries from all sides whenever new stuff is being discussed, but I think certain aspects of some releases have startled even some OMs. Like you said, Hypnos, nothing necessarily wrong with that methodology, but it does produce a few jarring moments for any party that feels something has been left out or mishandled. Everyone adjusts, of course, and a new equilibrium is generally established, but in some cases, it's questionable whether the new equilibrium is a proper one, and whether different sources of input might have steered the process away from those pitfalls.

Obviously I have an example in mind for every vague "some _____s" but I'm sure there are a number of such cases, and it doesn't make much sense to focus too closely on a few examples of a general rule.

November 16, 2007 at 08:27 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Crooktooth

I feel that depth of gameplay would be greatly enhanced by including chickens as pets.

*cough*

>.>
<.<

What?

November 19, 2007 at 10:20 AM PST | permalink

Posted by Cannonade

Hands go in pants, not chickens. Silly Crooktooth.

November 19, 2007 at 10:34 AM PST | permalink

Posted by Sanders

I think that Crooktooth fella is on to something.

November 19, 2007 at 04:45 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Crooktooth

..and it's not urmom.

November 28, 2007 at 01:50 PM PST | permalink

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